23221 PTE. T. ROBERTS. K.L.R.
Thomas Roberts was born in the second quarter of 1879 in Walton Le Dale. His father was Peter Roberts (b. 1850 in Bamber Bridge), a night watchman in a cotton mill. His mother was Elizabeth Woodruff (b. 1853 in School Lane). Peter and Elizabeth were married in 1873 and they had 3 children; Thomas’ two sisters were Annie (b. 1878) and Mary (b. 1882). Peter died in 1903, at which time the family was living at 41 Brandiforth Street. Tom was a cotton weaver and in 1905 he married Ellen Shorrock (b. 1883 in Clayton Green) and in 1910 they had a son, Francis. They then moved to Holne Cottage at Brindle.
Tom enlisted when War broke out in the King’s (Liverpool Regiment). He was given service number 23221 and posted initially to 14th Battalion. 14Bn went to France in September 1915 but in November that year they moved to Salonika. Tom’s medal records say he also served in 18th Battalion and finally in 17th Battalion. Both these battalions (2nd and 1st City Battalions respectively, the Liverpool Pals’ Battalions) initially came under orders of 89th Brigade in 30th Division. 18Bn was transferred to 21st Brigade in the same Division on 25 December 1915 and moved back to 89th Brigade on 11 February 1918. We know also that Tom landed in France on 24 September 1915 so all his service in France was with 30th Division.
In 1916, the Division fought on the Somme at Albert (including the capture of Montauban and subsequent fighting in Trônes Wood) and at Transloy Ridges. In 1917, they pursued the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line then fought in the Battle of Arras and later that year at Pilkem Ridge, the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres. In 1918, they suffered heavy losses during the first German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael), at St Quentin and Rosières, but they were in action again during Operation Georgette as the Germans sought to take the Kemmel Ridge between Ypres and Armentières. The Germans captured the Kemmelberg on 26 April but failed to break the Allied Line. On 29 April, a final German attack captured the Scherpenberg, a hill to the north-west of the Kemmelberg. It was in this action that Tom lost his life. He was 39 years old. By this time it had become clear to German high command that they could not achieve their objectives for Operation Georgette and the offensive was called off.
Service Number: 23221
Date of Death: 29/04/1918
Regiment/Service: The King's (Liverpool Regiment), 17th Bn.
Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 31 to 34 and 162 and 162A and 163A.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL